Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Mrs Josephine Teo, said on Sunday that the cut-off age for those who stand to benefit from the Pioneer Generation Package was decided after public feedback that that generation started working at a younger age.
"I think initially there has been some suggestions that the pioneer generation refers to those who were 21 at the point of independence, which would make them 70 this year," Mrs Teo said. "As the discussion floated around the public domain, it became apparent that in that era people probably started working earlier."
The cut-off age of 65 and above means that the pioneer generation refers to those who were 16 at independence.
Mrs Teo, who is the grassroots adviser for the Bishan-Toa Payoh Grassroots Organisations, was speaking at the sidelines of an event that paid tribute to pioneers living in Bishan North on Sunday. Some 45 residents aged 70 and above were treated to lunch at a coffeeshop and given goodie bags and red packets containing $80 each.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the much-anticipated package which will give the pioneer generation more subsidies at polyclinics, GP and Specialist Outpatient clinics, additional Medisave top ups and help with premiums for the new national insurance scheme, MediShield Life.
The package will benefit about 450,000 people in this special generation. It will apply to those who are 65 years old or older by the end of this year, and who became citizens before 1987.
Responding to queries as to whether the Government expect any negative reactions from people who might miss the cut-off age slightly and feel left out, she said the package comes on top of existing enhancements that are in the planning.
"That will include enhancements for Medishield Life and healthcare support for the broader population of Singaporeans," she said. "Even if you're not part of the (pioneer) group by definition, you'll know someone in your family - an uncle, dad, mum, an aunt - who is part of the pioneer generation. I think we should take this occasion to celebrate alongside everyone who is in that pioneer group."
More details about the package will be announced in the Budget speech on Feb 21.